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Former Chicago Park District Supervisor Mauricio Ramirez Charged With Sexually Assaulting 16-Year-Old Lifeguard

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A former Chicago Park District supervisor has been ordered held on $500,000 bail, accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old lifeguard this summer.

Mauricio Ramirez, 32, has been charged with one felony count each of criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Mauricio Ramirez, 32
Former Chicago Park District supervisor Mauricio Ramirez is charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old lifeguard multiple times over the summer of 2021. (Credit: Chicago Police)

Cook County prosecutors said Ramirez was the girl's supervisor as she was working as a lifeguard this summer, and was well aware of her age when he began talking to her in July, when she told him she was a 16-year-old junior in high school.

Prosecutors said, on two occasions between July and September, Ramirez picked the girl up from her school in his car, and later pulled over and sexually assaulted her, before taking her home.

In August, he also drove her home from work, and on the drive home, he sexually assaulted her.

On another occasion between July and September, the girl snuck out of her house at 2 a.m., and Ramirez picked her up and drove her to his house, where he sexually assaulted her, and then took her to school in the morning.

Another time on Sept. 26, prosecutors said Ramirez picked the girl up and took her home, and sexually assaulted her two times, then took her home.

The next day, the girl told a friend and her parents what had been happening, and reported the assaults to police.

The girl then went to Lurie Children's Hospital, where a rape kit was collected

The victim later told detectives she had deleted text messages between herself and Ramirez, but her phone records showed they had been in contact.

Ramirez was arrested on Oct. 12 and consented to a DNA swab, and was released from custody.

On Monday, DNA tests compared to the victim's rape kit determined Ramirez was a match, and he was arrested on Wednesday.

A Cook County judge set his bond at $500,000 during his first court appearance Thursday afternoon. He is due back in court on Nov. 17.

According to WBEZ, which has reported extensively on the Park District sexual assault scandal, Ramirez resigned his post on Oct. 4, after allegations of misconduct were brought to park officials.

Ramirez is the first Park District employee to face criminal charges stemming from multiple investigations into allegations of widespread sexual assault, abuse, and harassment against women and girls who have worked as lifeguards at the city's pools and beaches.

The scandal led to the resignation of former Park District CEO Mike Kelly earlier this month, after Mayor Lori Lightfoot demanded the Park District board fire him for his handling of the scandal.

Kelly's resignation came just weeks after Chicago Park District Inspector General Elaine Little resigned amid her office's ongoing investigation into widespread sexual harassment targeting female lifeguards.

Little's resignation came after WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio reported Little was herself under an investigation into "alleged conflicts and wrongdoing" upon leaving a post as director of investigations at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center three years ago.

In August, Kelly said the investigation by Little's office had resulted in disciplinary action against 42 employees since the probe into harassment among lifeguards began last March.

Two top managers, the district's assistant director of beaches and pools, and the beaches and pools manager, both were placed on emergency suspension last month, based on information Kelly received from the inspector general. Both will remain on suspension until the inspector general's investigation is completed.

Meantime, two other employees were terminated and barred from future employment with the district, six resigned and were placed on the district's "do not hire" list, nine were suspended, five remain on emergency suspension, and 18 received written reprimands.

The inspector general's probe – first disclosed by WBEZ – began in March 2020, when Kelly turned over a complaint he received from a former lifeguard, who described a toxic environment at Oak Street Beach, accusing fellow lifeguards of subjecting her and others to sexual harassment, and sexual and physical abuse. She also reported witnessing rampant drug and alcohol use by fellow lifeguards.


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